The Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC has announced plans to extend its services to the Republic of Maldives following the receipt of regulatory approval for the establishment of a fully-fledged Tier I Bank in the idyllic archipelago.

Sri Lanka’s largest private bank has received approval from both the Maldives Monetary Authority and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to set up a banking subsidiary in the Maldives.

The Maldives will be the third overseas banking operation of Commercial Bank, after Bangladesh, which the Bank entered in 2003, and Myanmar where the Bank opened a Representative Office in June this year.

Commercial Bank said its new subsidiary is to be named ‘Commercial Bank of Maldives Pvt Limited’ and the Bank will invest in a 55% stake in the entity subject to Exchange Control and other regulatory approvals. A leading Maldivian group of companies will own the remaining stake.

“We are delighted to receive a licence to operate a fully-fledged banking subsidiary in the Maldives,” Commercial Bank’s Managing Director and CEO Mr Jegan Durairatnam said. “Sri Lanka and the Maldives enjoy the closest possible bilateral relations and are linked by extremely strong economic ties. Sri Lankan companies operate hotels in the Maldives, large numbers of Sri Lankans are employed in the Maldivian hospitality industry, and Sri Lanka provides services to Maldivian visitors in many spheres including education and healthcare. It is therefore logical that a bank of the size and calibre of Commercial Bank has a presence in the Maldives.” He also stated that Commercial Bank has already extended substantial offshore lending facilities from Colombo to businesses located in the Maldives.

“Our entry strategy is to establish a single branch initially in Malé and thereafter increase our presence to up to three branches by the fifth year,” Mr Durairatnam said. “Mobile units and ATMs will also be set up in strategic locations and technology will be utilised at the highest level to tackle the vast geographic distribution.”

The new bank will offer individuals and corporate entities in the Maldives a variety of financial services such as savings and current accounts, fixed deposits, personal loans, housing loans, credit cards, overdrafts, commercial loans, trade financing services, internet banking, mobile banking, remittances and foreign exchange.

Commercial Bank’s first overseas operation was launched with the acquisition of the Bangladesh operations of Credit Agricole Indosuez (CAI). Today, the Bank’s operations in Bangladesh have grown to 18 outlets, and have won numerous awards including the Financial Mirror – Robintex Business Award for outstanding performance, the Financial News Services (FNS) Business Award for the ‘Best Performing Foreign Bank’ in Bangladesh and the ICMAB, National Best Corporate Award.

The Bank’s second overseas operation in Myanmar offers Banking and Advisory Services to Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi businesses wishing to enter that country. Commercial Bank was the first Sri Lankan bank to be granted a licence by the Central Bank of Myanmar to operate a Representative Office in that country.